Thursday, 9 August 2007


It's been over 100 degrees Fahrenheit for the last few days here in Raleigh, NC. Today there were highs of 103F, which is 39C. This kind of heat takes a bit of getting used to for a Brit. We are used to getting outside, with our shorts on, as soon as there is any sign of sunshine. But a nice summer's day in England is in the late 20sC, 30 if you are lucky. It's pretty rare to get the kind of high temperatures that appear to be the norm here in the summer. So it still feels a bit odd to me to be trying to stay indoors in the summer, but that's what you have to do. Like all Americans around here, we have air conditioning in the house, and we have it whirring away a lot of the time. When you step outside the front door at night, there are the intermingled sounds of everyone's air conditioning whirring away and the crickets and the tree frogs almost as loud. Goodness only knows what kind of impact all this air conditioning has on the environment. Our electricity bill in the summer is a lot higher than it is in the winter.

It feels odd to me not to be able to pop the window open and get a nice through breeze in the house. In our house in Birmingham, we'd just pop the patio doors open if it was a bit warm, or open the back door and a couple of windows. Here, that just makes the place hotter. And our cats are annoyed at the moment because they don't get to sit in the window and watch the world go by. I have stopped trying to sit outside on the decking for the time being at any point in the day because it's too hot. I am now getting used to the phenomenon of being able to sit outside in December, but staying inside in August.

When we were back in England in June, we saw a lot of the flooding that has devastated some areas. And then we got back here and everywhere was dry; our lawn was brown. We have water restrictions here so that we are only allowed to water the lawn on certain days.

There is still something quite exciting and different about being in such a warm climate. And the storms, when they come, are very dramatic and exciting. The thunder storms are like the kind you get in films. We once got caught in a very dramatic one when we were driving back from Durham. We could hardly see two feet in front of us because the rain was so heavy.

One of the major pluses of this kind of climate, though, is that lots of the neighbourhoods around here have their own pool. Ours is great, and only a short walk from our house. It's open from May to September and is "residents only". We try to get down there every day if we can. Some really posh people, including one or two of my colleagues, and some of the kids' friends, have their own pool in their back garden, but that doesn't appeal to me much -- it seems rather a lonely and isolated thing to swim on your own in your own pool with just the lizards and flies for company. But it was interesting that at our pool today, there were only a handful of people, perhaps because the heat was so intense. After the sun had been beating down on it all day, it was like jumping into a hot bath. And the slabs around the pool were very hot underfoot.

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